Typhoid fever

Typhoid and paratyphoid are infections acquired by the ingestion of food or water contaminated by the bacteria Salmonella typhi or Salmonella paratyphi. They cause very similar diseases collectively known as enteric fever and mainly affect low income areas of the world where sanitation is poor and clean drinking water is not widely available. The majority of global cases of disease occur in Asia, but the disease continues to be a concern in other areas including Africa and parts of Central and South America.

The majority of travel-related infections in the UK occur in those visiting friends and relatives in countries of the Indian subcontinent (Bangladesh, India and Pakistan).

Symptoms of typhoid and paratyphoid include: fever, headache, muscle or joint pains, constipation or diarrhoea and a rash. Complications include intestinal bleeding and perforation (development of a hole in the wall of the bowel). If treated most people will make a full recovery; however, if untreated, death rates can be high.

Prevention

The risk of acquiring typhoid or paratyphoid can be reduced by ensuring good personal hygiene and following advice on the prevention of food and water-borne diseases. 

Typhoid vaccination

Vaccination is recommended for travellers whose planned activities put them at higher risk of typhoid infection in areas where sanitation and food hygiene are likely to be poor. Vaccinations currently available only protect against typhoid and not paratyphoid infection.

Both oral and injectable vaccines are available. Some vaccinations are combined with hepatitis A.

Public Health England’s Immunisation against infectious disease states: children between the ages of 12 months and two years should be immunised if the risk of typhoid fever is considered high. Immunisation is not recommended for children under one year of age. When children are too young to benefit fully from typhoid vaccination, scrupulous attention to personal, food and water hygiene measures should be exercised by the caregiver.

Length of protection

Following a single dose of an injectable or a complete course of oral typhoid vaccine, reinforcing immunisation should be offered at three-year intervals for those at continued risk. Booster vaccination of oral typhoid consists of three further capsules.

FACT SHEET WRITTEN BY:

NaTHNaC

The National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) is commissioned by Public Health England to provide health information for both healthcare professionals and travellers. Information is compiled by the NaTHNaC clinical and scientific team, and updated regularly. Further advice on health risks and disease outbreaks is available at www.travelhealthpro.org.

Date last reviewed: November 2015

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